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lewismistreated

The Story of Braid

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This is all really interesting.

Why is so much of the story hidden?

What's the purpose of hiding half of the text on the last cloud level?

To make you think. It could tell it more directly, but by leaving it to the player it encourages more personal views on the story. It's very rewarding when you have your own view on the story, based on what you know and find out. See it as the videogame equivalent of The Fountain, Eraserhead or Donnie Darko.

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To make you think. It could tell it more directly, but by leaving it to the player it encourages more personal views on the story. It's very rewarding when you have your own view on the story, based on what you know and find out. See it as the videogame equivalent of The Fountain, Eraserhead or Donnie Darko.

It doesn't make you think if you're not aware of it.

The missing pages at the end just felt like a snide trick was being played on me.

The movie examples you give all present information to you, and it's up to you to interpret it.

I like the oblique storyline, I just don't get the idea of hiding parts of it away.

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There have been hidden extra story parts in hundreds of games down the years, though.

So? There have been bugs in hundreds of games before, that doesn't make them a good idea.

In this game, the missing story sections just annoyed me. Maybe that's just me. I've enjoyed reading the interpretations on here, but I almost feel a bit cheated that I wasn't 'allowed' to think about it myself first, because it was hidden away from somebody with my level of attention span / tolerance for tricks like this.

I'm also quite prepared to believe that there's a really good reason why they only make sense if they're hidden.

In response to Beitel, the hiding away sort of denied me a personal view of the story, rather than encouraging one, as I only discovered it by reading other people's interpretations outside the game.

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The missing pages at the end just felt like a snide trick was being played on me.

On the first screen, it's obviously set up so that you're expected to walk behind the hill in the foreground after getting the key. This would trigger the alternative text and hopefully alert you as to what you need to do on the rest of the screens.

It obviously didn't work for me because I missed it, I must've dropped off the left instead. Sounds like a lot of others did the same.

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On the first screen, it's obviously set up so that you're expected to walk behind the hill in the foreground after getting the key. This would trigger the alternative text and hopefully alert you as to what you need to do on the rest of the screens.

It obviously didn't work for me because I missed it, I must've dropped off the left instead. Sounds like a lot of others did the same.

I don't think I can easily check, but I think that's what I did too. If I'd understood that there was a little game I needed to play to see the missing text I probably would have enjoyed looking for it.

I just presumed that blank pages were supposed to be making a clever point that was going right over my head.

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I just presumed that blank pages were supposed to be making a clever point that was going right over my head.

Are the panels always blank? I thought that they might reveal more text, if I collected all eight stars to make the princess explode.

Regarding the nuclear bomb sub-text, I assumed that it was intentional to keep this till the end as a plot-twist. The text up to that point suggests that the princess is a real person with whom you are trying to fix a broken relationship. Therefore the whole game is played out according to the platform-genre conventions. You are the good guy and your motives for rescuing the princess are virtuous.

Only when you finish the game it's revealed that the princess is a metaphor. Your motives are selfish and the consequences are disastrous. A similar pay-off occurs in Shadow of the Colossus (although that game does communicate early on that your actions are morally dubious).

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Guest Gecks
Your post revealing an entire subtext is great and am glad I read it before I continue with the game as now I'll be enjoying a narrative on an extra level than i would have previously.

oooh, god, no ;) the pay off in figuring out what the 'princess' is (in all the strands in the story 'braid') is the single best thing about braid. it's fairly obvious from the epilogue text and preceeding narrative (when placed in context), but as with all twists the 'not knowing' makes the 'knowing' better.

whats with the castle at the end?

the castle at the end - to me - represents the idea that whilst we make mistakes, our path through life - our experiences - are foundation enough to improve, or realise what's good. note the castle is made up of little icons for each of the levels, which in turn seem to represent tim's experiences and trials through life.

everyone builds their castle.

BTW i don't place too much value in the hidden text. i think pretty much all of the story is revealed in the epilogue without that text. the nuclear stuff is surely very clear? eraserhead is far more oblique!

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Breifly OT;

Donnie Darko is maybe quite a good likeness but almost the other way round, I really liked the film but after watching the making of / directors commentary stuff, what it was actually meant to be really disappointed me... whereas Braid has got more interesting side storylines, I didn't get the whole nuclear thing at all....

Then again, that was just because I thought nothing of it and didn't consider looking into it at all, just a platformer, right? ;)

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I think the pages are hidden because much of the story is about an obsessive search for the princess (for many different values of princess), and so the form should mirror this.

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this thread got a mention on the latest GFW radio podcast. You should give it a listen, because Shawn Elliot goes on at length about the subject you're all discussing.

But did he post here? That's what I want to know.

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Yeah I liked that. At first it seems like it would be nice to be able to erase our mistakes, but in reality it's because we can make mistakes that we are able to choose our own path through life.

If anyone likes this idea, they should really watch the film Primer if they haven't already :P

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Guest gilby1613

Also, the main enemy in the "Lair" levels seemed to look at least slightly Japanese. (I think it's his armor that gives me that impression.) Also, when you fight him, you only ever have two chandeliers to drop on him in order to end the fight, which could be a parallel to the two bombs used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

So the lair levels could be seen as a reenactment of the end of the war. The war parallel becomes stronger with the numerous goombas dying as the fight between Tim and the main enemy/Japan continues.

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Also, the main enemy in the "Lair" levels seemed to look at least slightly Japanese. (I think it's his armor that gives me that impression.) Also, when you fight him, you only ever have two chandeliers to drop on him in order to end the fight, which could be a parallel to the two bombs used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

So the lair levels could be seen as a reenactment of the end of the war. The war parallel becomes stronger with the numerous goombas dying as the fight between Tim and the main enemy/Japan continues.

Problem is, when things are left loose and open to interpretation you can get anything to mean anything else. Every tiny detail, no matter how insignificant can have some amazing new idea extrapolated from it.

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Man, what a great thread. I obviously didn't what to read this before I finished the game, but now that I've completed it, I'm glad some people took the time to write in great detail how they interpreted the story.

Good stuff.

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Why is so much of the story hidden?

I think because working it out it is intended to be part of the game. I see it as something similar to all those alternate reality 'games' in which a series of cryptic word-based puzzles are solved collectively to reveal an underlying narrative.

It's not an aspect of the game that I myself enjoy, but I can see that some other people do (like the person who started this thread, for example).

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Guest Darkendes

I just beat the game today, and have started reading through other people's thoughts. I really enjoyed the atom bomb theory. Except I interpreted Tim and the Princess a bit differently.

After reading through everything again, I think Tim more represents the spirit of science, or scientists to be a bit more specific, in their pursuit of understanding. His search for the Princess seems to be a quest for complete understanding of how to manipulate atoms at the nuclear level, not necessarily to make a bomb.

To me, he seems to be looking for a way to provide a better way of life for society. I'll try to explain what I mean. Bear with me.

I reread the books from Chapter 1 and this stood out to me:

"Tim wants, like nothing else, to find the Princess, to know her at last. For Tim this would be momentous, sparking an intense light that embraces the world, a light that reveals the secrets long kept from us, that illuminates -- or materializes! -- a final palace where we can exist in peace."

You could look at this in two ways: an obsessed, well-intentioned Tim or an obsessed power-hungry, controlling Tim.

Either way, he has an obsession. Most of us have been looking at him in a bad light because of the outcome of things, but I think here Tim is sincerely hoping to be able to do wonderful things with the knowledge of how things interact at the atomic level. And to him, from a scientist's point of view, the sky is the limit once he knows the laws of the universe - even to the extent of eventually "materializing" things. Unfortunately, horrible things will also be possible if this information would fall into the wrong hands:

"But how would this be perceived by the other residents of the city, in the world that flows contrariwise? The light would be intense and warm at the beginning, but then flicker down to nothing, taking the castle with it; it would be like burning down the place we've always called home, where we played so innocently as children. Destroying all hope of safety, forever."

This can be taken in a number of ways, but in my opinion, Tim is wondering how the rest of the cynical world would perceive this knowledge of things once it's discovered. Many people out there would want to use the technology for power and control. Many of the religious would be scared of it, thinking it's interfering with "God's will." If weapons were to be built, Tim knows they would be extremely powerful and dangerous, and could cause mass destruction. He worries for the safety of the world, yet his obsession for understanding is too overpowering. So he continues his search.

And a little more evidence from the first couple of books we come upon in Chapter 2:

"Chapter 2: Time and Forgiveness"

"Tim is off on a search to rescue the Princess. She has been snatched by a

horrible and evil monster. This happened because Tim made a mistake."

In this book, Tim had already FOUND the Princess, and now he's off to RESCUE her from "a horrible and evil monster" - most likely a representation of his work being used by the military when they dropped the first atomic bombs. His biggest mistake was letting them use the technology.

"Not just one. He made many mistakes during the time they spent together, all

those years ago. Memories of their relationship have become muddled, replaced

wholesale, but one remains clear: the princess turning sharply away, her braid

lashing at him with contempt."

Tim gave his knowledge to the wrong people. Now, with the bombs having been dropped, all of the great possibilities Tim was hoping for are quickly fading. His discoveries are now viewed by most of the world as a bad thing; his happy dreams have been "replaced wholesale" with the impression that nuclear = bad.

"He knows she tried to be forgiving, but who can just shrug away a guilty lie,

a stab in the back? Such a mistake will change a relationship irreversibly,

even if we have learned from the mistake and would never repeat it. The

princess's eyes grew narrower. She became more distant."

"Her" attempt at forgiveness could be the nuclear power plants that supply a clean, renewable energy source. The "stab in the back" could be the fact that he gave his technology away for a destructive purpose, perhaps believing that the ends would jusitify the means if it would stop the fighting. But he knew all along it was a bad idea, and did it anyway, and now that the world views nuclear technology as primarily dangerous, his "Princess" - his idea of a peaceful, efficient, advanced future - has all but faded away.

"He scrutinized the fall of an apple, the twisting of metal orbs hanging from a

thread. Through these clues he would find the Princess, see her face. After an

especially fervent night of tinkering, he kneeled behind a bunker in the

desert; he held a piece of welder's glass up to his eyes and waited."

On that moment hung eternity. Time stood still. Space contracted to a

pinpoint. It was as though the earth had opened and the skies split. One felt

as though he had been privileged to witness the Birth of the World..."

Someone near him said: 'It worked.'"

Someone else said: 'Now we are all sons of bitches.'"

This was his first breakthrough. He succeeded in harnessing the power of atoms. His dreams are coming true, and he felt the world was going to become a much better place. Unfortunately, things went all downhill from here.

I'd go further into it, but I have to go now. You can go back and read through all of the books with the notion that Tim isn't actually the bad guy, he's just a guy with high hopes who made a lot of really bad mistakes along the way. His Princess isn't a bomb or a weapon of any kind - she's the future where everybody is happy and anything is possible. And the reason that she becomes a weapon in the end is all his own fault.

The rewinding of time represents his regrets that he wishes he could take back. If he could go back and do it all over again, he would.

I think it fits together for the most part. I'd love to hear what you think of it.

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Guest rannic

I finally got the 8-star ending today... normally I'd just sit back and read, but I'm compelled to chime in on this one. Apologies in advance for the long n00b-post.

I agree mostly with Darkendes, the Princess in world 1 is science, and Tim (in world 1, at least) is a scientist. But that's only a small part of the story. I believe that the 8-star ending is the "real" ending... with the normal ending, the princess escapes from Tim, which doesn't make much sense for my interpretation of the rest of the story. But when he catches her and she explodes? That makes a lot more sense. Here's my interpretation of what happens after the explosion, based on the pre-world books. Your mileage may vary, of course.

World 2: Time and Forgiveness

  • Tim is off on a search to rescue the Princess. She has been snatched by a horrible and evil monster. This happened because Tim made a mistake.

The Princess in this case is still science. Tim's love has been stolen by people who used it for evil.

  • Not just one. He made many mistakes during the time they spent together, all those years ago. Memories of their relationship have become muddled, replaced wholesale, but one remains clear: the Princess turning sharply away, her braid lashing at him with contempt.

The mistakes are the pursuit of this technology which Tim originally thought would be used for good. The memory of the Princess turning away is the memory of the nuclear explosion and its aftermath.

  • He knows she tried to be forgiving, but who can just shrug away a guilty lie, a stab in the back? Such a mistake will change a relationship irreversibly, even we have learned from the mistake and would never repeat it. The Princess's eyes grew narrower. She became more distant.

After the explosion, Tim continued to do his science thing, with some success. But knowing what he'd done, he found it harder and harder to continue.

  • Our world, with its rules of causality, has trained us to be miserly with forgiveness. By forgiving too readily, we can be badly hurt. But if we've learned from a mistake and become better for it, shouldn't we be rewarded for the learning, rather than punished for the mistake?

Tim wishes he could allow himself to forgive what he'd done. He'd learned his lesson, but still couldn't continue his work without worrying about what could come of it.

  • What if our world worked differently? Suppose we could tell her: "I didn't mean what I just said," and she would say: "It's okay, I understand," and she would not turn away, and life would really proceed as though we had never said that thing? We could remove the damage but still be wiser for the experience.

The thing he "said" is the nuclear bomb. Again, wishing he could just continue doing science as usual.

  • Tim and the Princess lounge in the castle garden, laughing together, giving names to the colorful birds. Their mistakes are hidden from each other, tucked away between the folds of time, safe.

I'm a bit hazy on this one, but it seems like Tim is continuing to do science, and doing his best to push the bad thoughts out of his mind.

The jigsaw: man and woman drinking wine in a garden. The woman looks happy, the man considerably less so. My guess is that it means science (the woman) is still there, still happy, same as ever, it's Tim (the man) that's changed.

"The Princess is in another castle": I think the dinosaur represents Tim's inner voice. In this case, he's saying "Sorry, Tim. Science just isn't your Princess anymore."

World 3: Time and Mystery

  • All those years ago, Tim had left the Princess behind. He had kissed her on the neck, picked up his travel bag, and walked out the door. He regrets this, to a degree. Now he's journeying to find her again, to show he knows how sad it was, but also to tell her how it was good.

Tim quit the science racket, but now feels unfulfilled. He's off to find a new calling in life.

  • For a long time, he thought they had been cultivating the perfect relationship. He had been fiercely protective, reversing all his mistakes so they would not touch her. Likewise, keeping a tight rein on her own mistakes, she always pleased him.

He was a good scientist, always checking his work. And science always gave pleasing, "perfect" results.

  • But to be fully couched within the comfort of a friend is a mode of existence with severe implications. To please you perfectly, she must understand you perfectly. Thus you cannot defy her expectations or escape her reach. Her benevolence has circumscribed you, and your life's achievements will not reach beyond the map she has drawn.

I'm a bit stumped on this one. Once a scientist, always a scientist?

  • Tim needed to be non-manipulable. He needed a hope of transcendence. He needed, sometimes, to be immune to the Princess's caring touch.

Tim wants to be something other than a scientist, even though he finds science so appealing.

  • Off in the distance, Tim saw a castle where the flags flutter even when the wind has expired, and the bread in the kitchen is always warm. A little bit of magic.

He hopes to find his new "Princess," whatever it may be, in this next "castle". The castle is whatever Tim is attempting next in life, the Princess is something as comforting as science.

The jigsaw: A man participating in a toast, looking awkward and unhappy. His new pursuit doesn't appear to be working out. He also seems to be enjoying his wine considerably less than in world 2's puzzle.

"The Princess is in another castle": Sorry, Timmy, you don't get the same fulfillment out of this pursuit as you did from science.

World 4: Time and Place

  • Visiting his parents' home for a holiday meal, Tim felt as though he had regressed to those long-ago years when he lived under their roof, oppressed by their insistence on upholding strange values which, to him, were meaningless. Back then, bickering would erupt over drops of gravy spilt onto the tablecloth.

Most of this world's books seem oddly straightforward. This one seems to be talking about Tim's awkward childhood. Sounds like he was coldly logical, which made him clash with his parents a lot. Visiting his childhood home reminds him of this and frustrates him.

  • Escaping, Tim walked in the cool air toward the university he'd attended after moving out of his parents' home. As he distanced himself from that troubling house, he felt the embarrassment of childhood fading into the past. But now he stepped into all the insecurities he'd felt at the university, all the panic of walking a social tightrope.

I actually don't think there's a single metaphor in this one!

  • Tim only felt relieved after the whole visit was over, sitting back home in the present, steeped in contrast: he saw how he'd improved so much from those old days. This improvement, day by day, takes him ever-closer to finding the Princess. If she exists - she must! - she will transform him, and everyone.

Remembering his youth has made him realize how much he's matured. He feels reassured that he'll be able to find a new pursuit eventually. When he finds his new calling, he'll no longer be a scientist and won't interact with others as such.

  • He felt on his trip that every place stirs up an emotion, and every emotion invokes a memory: a time and a location. So couldn't he find the Princess now, tonight, just by wandering from place to place and noticing how he feels? A trail of feelings, of awe and inspiration, should lead him to that castle: in the future: her arms enclosing him, her scent fills him with excitement, creates a moment so strong he can remember it in the past.

He's decided to try a number of things and figure out what he likes. As he refines his interests, he'll eventually find the one interest that give him the same feeling that science did.

  • Immediately Tim walked out his door, the next morning, toward whatever the new day held. He felt something like optimism.

Straightforward.

Jigsaw: Foreground: a boy in bed, looking frightened/unhappy, surrounded by model planes and such. Background left: an open door with a man in a tophat entering. Background right: An open window with a figure either entering or leaving. I'm not entirely sure what to make of this. I'm guessing the boy is Tim and the man in the doorway is his father. The background of the room looks somewhat like a college dorm. There's a computer in the room, though, so at least that part of the picture is from after the development of the atomic bomb. And I have no idea what's with the guy climbing through the window.

"The Princess is in... hey where are you going?": Tim was hopping from "castle" to "castle" quickly, hoping to find the one that could contain his new Princess.

World 5: Time and Decision

  • She never quite understood the impulses that drove him, never quite felt the intensity that, over time, chiseled lines into his face. She was never quite close enough to him - but he held her as though she were, whispered into her ear words that only a soul mate should receive.

As a result of the events in world 4, Tim has started a new life/career. While his new pursuit comes close to being as satisfying as science, it's just not quite as perfect a fit. Contrast with World 3, quote 3.

  • Over the remnants of dinner, they both knew the time had come. He would have said: "I have to go find the Princess," but he didn't need to. Giving a final kiss, hoisting a travel bag to his shoulder, he walked out the door. Through all the nights that followed, she still loved him as though he had stayed, to comfort her and protect her, Princess be damned.

He decides to give up on his current pursuit and try again. Compare to World 3, quote 1. Not sure what exactly the "she still loved him" stuff refers to... maybe he keeps doing what he's doing as a hobby?

Jigsaw: An airport. A man is in the foreground sitting down looking sad. In the background is the same man, seemingly getting off a plane, happy. Not really sure about this one, either... perhaps Tim is having an identity crisis? This is the world where you can have a doppelganger running around, I'm sure it's no coincidence that there's a double in the puzzle as well.

"Hi, ummm... I'm lost. How are you?": Adds to the "identity crisis" theory, but I don't know.

World 6: Hesitance

  • Perhaps in a perfect world, the ring would be a symbol of happiness. It's a sign of ceaseless devotion: even if he will never find the Princess, he will always be trying. He still will wear the ring.
  • But the ring makes its presence known. It shines out to others like a beacon of warning. It makes people slow to approach. Suspicion, distrust. Interactions are torpedoed before Tim can open his mouth.
  • In time he learns to deal with others carefully. He matches their hesitant pace, tracing a soft path through their defenses. But this exhausts him, and it only works to a limited degree. It doesn't get him what he needs.
  • Tim begins to hide the ring in his pocket. But he can hardly bear it - too long tucked away, that part of him might suffocate.

OK, frankly, I have no effing clue what any of this means. As far as I can tell, the ring is a metaphor for some aspect of Tim's personality that makes others uncomfortable. He tries to hide it, but he's afraid of losing the trait entirely. Beyond that? No idea.

Jigsaw: Man staring sadly into flames, WWII-era Uncle Sam "I WANT YOU" poster on the wall, a smiling, somewhat evil looking woman's face in the sky. No clue about this one either.

"It took you so long to get here! But at long last, I can tell you that... The Princess must be in another castle. I've never met her.. are you sure she exists?": Tim is beginning to doubt if he will ever find another calling as fulfilling as science. Also notice that the castle is surrounded by statues, each of which seems to represent a different person. Perhaps each of these indicates something that Tim has tried and given up on. There's also a big statue of a child in the foreground that kind of looks like the kid in the world 4 jigsaw. It's also the only statue with a face. My guess is that one represents science... Tim started it when he was a kid, and it's the only career he really sees himself in.

... Good lord, I think that's the longest thing I've written since getting out of college. I'm gonna go ahead and skip World 1 and Epilogue, because I don't think I'd have anything that hasn't already been said. Thanks for indulging me, and apologies about the mega-post. I've been riding a bit of a Braid plot-high all night and really wanted to get my thoughts down, and this forum just happened to get caught in the crossfire. It's always interesting to hear others' thoughts and interpretations, so keep 'em coming.

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I don't think it's all about science and the atom bomb, though 8 star end and epilogue bits are. A lot of it concerns the breakdown of a relationship (Tim's ring seems to be a wedding ring, but he doesn't wear it. If he was still with his wife he would, but we know they have split up. He is hiding the fact of this relationship from others because it changes the way people are arround him. His failed relationship makes people hesitant to get closer to him, in case their relationship breaks down too). At least that's how I saw it.

Oh and in the time and place, I saw the jigsaw as Tim revisiting an old room of his and remembering himself as a youngster.

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Guest Darkendes

I'm not sure about the ring either, but it makes sense that it's a wedding ring.

If he and his wife got a divorce because of his obsession with his work, then Tim likely regrets this as well. The ring is his only tie to his wife he has left, or in other words, his only tie to a normal life, so he wants to wear it. But in wearing it, he's basically killing his chance at new relationships. Other women would be very cautious when they see the ring, and might not believe him when he says he's not married.

Another way to look at it could be in the form of a metaphor. The ring being a symbol for how Tim is utterly married to his work as a nuclear scientist. He's so obsessed with it that it hurts his relationships with other people. He can try to pretend to ignore his work and focus on bettering his relationships with others, but he can't keep it up long enough without going back to it.

*shrugs* It's a hard passage to interpret.

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I agree it's about man's relentless pursuit for control over nature and ultimate domination and power. Man can't live with mystery and must explain everything... the worst example of this is the creation of the nuclear bomb. The one red book that describes Tim watching the explosion from behind welders glass pretty much sums it up.

great stuff.

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